Roos from Spaaaaaace!

Back in 2016, I had finally completed an original Ral Partha “Rooman War Party” (#01-044) from 1977.  This effort culminated in my building a 21-figure phalanx of pike-armed anthropomorphic kangaroos, replete with Australian 7-pointed stars on their shields.

At that time, I also began to see that others, like the wonderfully named Imperial Rebel Ork (IRO for short) were doing amazing “kit-bashes” and conversions with different models.  Of course, IRO uses plastic, and I’m more of an old school metal guy.  I also was getting more into retro sci-fi figures and using them for skirmish games.  I was inspired by IRO and Azazel (both Aussies) to push myself to do my own conversion.  So, I combined two figures – a Ral Partha Rooman (25 mm scale) and a Reaper #80010, “Nova Corp Sergeant” (28 mm scale), made a mold, and cast a bunch of “Space Roomans” (in metal of course).  You can read about that somewhat massive project here.  Getting around to painting these took a bit longer, and even my good friend Buck Surdu painted some that I gave him much quicker than I did.

15 Rooman after star
Ral Partha Rooman
1 Space Roomans pickup from ebay
The Reaper figure (circled) that I used was in a bunch of  figures I got on eBay

Azazel is kind enough to run a monthly community painting challenge  – and October’s was “Unit-ed October”, and focused on units.  So, I took this opportunity to get these done.   Of course, this effort was slightly affected by some gaming and the Red Sox winning the 2018 World Series (YES!), but I got them (the Space Roos that is) done by October 31st, 2018.  I will use them in Combat Patrol™ games.

I decided to paint the Roos similar to the way I did the Roomans, except that I wanted a more dusty and dirty look to them, as they are intrepid infantrymen (infantryroos?).  I also wanted to convert a couple of figures per squad (yes, a conversion of a conversion) to carry different weapons.  In this case, I used a grenade launcher sprue from RBJ miniatures to make two Roos into grenadiers, and a different RPG sprue from RBJ to make two other Roos into anti-tank troopers.  So my 28-figure platoon would consist of:

  • Platoon Leader
  • Platoon Sergeant
  • 2 Space Roo Squads consisting of:
    • 1 Squad Leader in each squad
    • 2 teams of:
      • 1 TL per team
      • 4 Space Roos with assault rifles/blasters per team
      • 1 Space Roo per team with either a grenade launcher or anti-tank weapon

Two squads make a light platoon, but I think that they will be a potent elite fighting force on the tabletop.  Also, these Roos are equipped with body armor on their torsos, and importantly, jet packs!  I will also give them a higher rate of movement similar to what I did for the Space Phraints (1½ cards of movement).  I cleaned and filed the models, and prepared them for conversion and priming by mounting them on 1″ steel washers.

1 Cleaned and mounted
The two squads behind their platoon leader and platoon sergeant.  The weapons for conversion are on the left.

I had a tough time reorienting the arms of the RPG-armed Roos, and I needed to break them and use green stuff to create a proper pose.  Pinning was not feasible unfortunately.  I also used green stuff to mount the grenadiers’ launchers and to give them bandoleers of grenades.  The grenadiers looked fine enough for the tabletop, but I was unhappy with the RPG Roos, as they looked “Popeye” like in their arms.  As the Space Roos body armor gives them an angular body look, I decided to use a series of very small 2 mm polystyrene chips to create an “armored look” over the arms by affixing them with Gorilla glue.

2 conversions
The green stuff conversions – note the bulbous arms that needed attention on the AT Roos.
3 up armor
My fix for the arms.  You can see that my casts varied in terms of “crispness”.  Clearly, I was going to need the brushwork to make these work.

I ended up double priming these figures, as I knew that I would need to fix much with brushwork and painting.  For example, there was a large indentation on the Roos’ left feet (paws?) that I needed to paint over. I thought that a thinned brush priming followed by a thinned airbrush priming would help.  I think it did.

4a double prime
The platoon primed

For their base colors, I went with a yellowy/sandy look for their armor, which I thought would reflect a desert or dusty deployment.

5 base coat sand yellow
I airbrushed the armor with a yellowish/sand color.  The idea was to use washes to bring out details (and allow me to obscure casting abnormalities).  This would give me a nice camouflaged look at the end.
6 eyes, hands feet
Outlining the eyes, ears, feet, and gloves in black.  I went with a red kangaroo coloring for the Roo parts .
7 mid stage
Moving on to fur painting.  Inks and washes gave more depth to this later on.
8 jet packs
Jet packs!
9 painted not washed
The bottom torso on the left has been painted with additional inks for depth.
10 drybrush guns
Comparison of the weapons – before (left) and after (right) dry brushing.  The blue is indicative of the 1st Squad.

One of the issues I really want to focus on when I build a platoon is to make it easy for the players (some of us with “experienced” eyes) to see and identify a figure’s squad and team.  I got some steel punches, and some jewelry stamps to make 1/4″ and 5/16″ placards that I could mount on the figures’ bases.

11 punches and stamps
My 1/4″ punch and the two jewelry stamps next to the polystyrene placards.  I did use 5/16″ placards for the platoon leader and platoon sergeant.
12 painted placards
The placards, stamped and painted.  I used a wash to fill out the letters and numbers.
13 placard close up
Placard close up shot

Next, I washed the figures twice with Citadel “Agrax Earthshade”.  I then mounted the RPG’s with Gorilla glue.

14a two AT after wash
RPG Roos!

Lastly, I used a whole bottle of Citadel “Armageddon Dunes” to fill and shape around the bases and let them dry and harden.  The placards were mounted into this paint.  Then I gave the bases a wash with “Agrax Earthshade” and two different dry brush applications (Polly Scale “WWII German Armor Light Tan” and Vallejo “Light Brown”).  Then I gave everything two coats of matte varnish.

15 platoon initial bases
After filling the bases 
16 pl and psg need bases washed
The platoon leader and platoon sergeant almost ready!
17 bases done!
Nice close up of the bases.  The shading gave the body armor the dirty effect that I wanted.
18 AT and ldrs done
The four conversions of conversions, front…
18a AT and ldrs done back
…and back

After adding some tufts from Shadows Edge Miniatures for even better identification, the platoon was finally done (I LOVE their tufts).  I am happy with it, given the work and effort it took to bring it to life.  So, now, appropriately, I will share with you some eye candy!

19 Platoon HQ
The platoon HQ, frontal view…
19a Platoon HQ Back
and rear view, with a good view of the jet packs, red placards, and tufts. 
20 First Squad
1st Squad with blue placards
21 Second Squad
2nd Squad with green placards and green tufts on the leaders.
22 conversions
The AT and grenadier Roos
23 meet ancestors
The Space Roos meet their ancestors, the Roomans!
24 box o Roomans
My box of Roos and Roomen
25 holding off warbots
The Space Roos’ 1st Squad holds off the Warbots
26 holding off warbots 2nd squad
The 2nd Squad close Assaults Juggerbot

I am looking forward to seeing these guys in action soon.  I appreciate your looking and hope that you enjoyed this post.  I always read your feedback, so please let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

I dedicate this post to all my Aussie friends!

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, WASHES, AND FLOCKING USED:

  1. Citadel “Imperium Primer”
  2. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  3. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  4. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  5. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  6. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
  7. Vallejo Game Air “Red Terracotta”
  8. Citadel “Flayed One Flesh”
  9. Americana “Bleached Sand”
  10. Americana “Black Tie – Satin”
  11. Vallejo “Black”
  12. Vallejo “US Dark Green”
  13. Tamiya “Copper XF-6”
  14. Tamiya “X-20A Thinner”
  15. Tamiya “XF-49 Khaki”
  16. Vallejo Game Air “Weiss”
  17. Tamiya “Gun Metal X-10”
  18. Vallejo Game Air “Steel”
  19. Vallejo Game Air “Beasty Brown”
  20. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Steel”
  21. Vallejo Mecha Color “Dark Steel”
  22. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Blue”
  23. Vallejo Game Air “Electric Blue”
  24. Vallejo Mecha Color “Metallic Green”
  25. Citadel “Hexwraith Flame”
  26. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  27. Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” (ink)
  28. P3 “Brown” (ink)
  29. Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
  30. Citadel “Nuln Oil Gloss” (wash)
  31. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  32. Gorilla Glue
  33. Citadel “Armageddon Dunes”
  34. Polly Scale WWII “German Armor Light Tan”
  35. Vallejo “Light Brown”
  36. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  37. Shadows Edge Miniatures 6 mm “Dark Forest Red” (tufts)
  38. Shadows Edge Miniatures 6 mm “Dark Blue” (tufts)
  39. Shadows Edge Miniatures 12 mm “Wild Tufts” (tufts)

Thanks again for looking and for your feedback!  ESPECIALLY AUSSIES!

After 33 years, I finally have an ORIGINAL Ral Partha Rooman War Party Troop! (ES-44 or 01-044) from 1977!!!

Some projects take a while – and this one was over 33 years in the making.  As background, my first introduction to tabletop wargaming was in 1983 at West Point.  My classmate Dave Wood (USMA 1984) introduced me to Buck Surdu (USMA 1985).  Buck had set up a fantasy tabletop war game on a gaggle of desks in the Department of Foreign Languages, and from then on, a whole new gaming experience was open to me.

Buck wrote his own rules, and he and Dave had units of all kinds for the game.  One type that Buck had was a unit of “Roomans”, which he referred to as “Beaks” as well.  They were of course of the marsupial macropod (large foot) persuasion – more or less humanoid kangaroos.  Of course, the word play of Romans/Roomans is evident as well.  They were armed with pikes, had great movement and combat capabilities, and overall were just pretty cool.  I wanted to get some, and every time I went to a hobby store in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I looked for Roomans.  I had hardly any luck.

Little did I know back then that Ral Partha had produced only one type of blister pack of “Rooman War Party”, with production starting in 1977.  The original numbering of the blister pack was ES-44, and in 1978 and later years that was changed to 01-044.  This set  was in the “Personalities and Things…That Go Bump in the Night” line from Ral Partha.  Each pack in 1977 came with one Rooman with a shield in front, two Roomans with shields on the side, and three assembled pikes on piano wire.  By this I mean that the 1977 pack had pikes that were in one piece with streamers rolled up under the business end of the pike.  Later, Ral Partha changed the pikes to a two-piece type, where the point of the pike had smaller streamers coming off and would need to be glued to a piece of enclosed piano wire.  This latter type was the most prevalent type made by Ral Partha.

Let’s get back to my search.  As time went on, I became very frustrated in my attempts to locate any blister packs of Roomans.  Today, I’d just look on the company web site or call them – but back then – well kids there was no internet – and that would be a very expensive long-distance toll call to Cincinnati (especially from West Germany where I spent most of the latter 1980’s in the Army).  Alas, I found just one blister pack of Roomans at a hobby store around 1986 or 1987 – and that was it!

3 01-044 package
The Only Roomans I Ever Found in a Hobby Store

I put them away, awaiting the day when I would find another blister pack – and then I could make a unit of 6 figures perhaps…that wait was indeed over 33 years.

Now I must fast forward to my getting back into the hobby in 2014 and discovering eBay.  Wow!  Surely I will be able to find some Roomans on eBay!  So, I searched and searched, and was able to find 18 loose Roomans either singly or in larger lots, plus one original 1977 blister package over the space of 18 months or so.  Most times, they were called Goblins or Orcs by the sellers.  Almost all had very bad paint jobs that needed to be stripped.  This left me with 24 original Roomans.

I have not seen any in quite a while except for a poor recast here and there.  Buck knew some contacts at Iron Winds Metals, and we inquired as to the status of the original molds, but unfortunately they were either lost or destroyed.  This was sad.  But I was able to get pikes from Melissa Morello at Iron Winds Metals that matched the post-1977 type as most of the Roomans I got on eBay either had the wrong weapon type or none at all.  (THANK YOU MELISSA!)  Of course, I also learned how to make gravity molds during this timeframe and now can make my own castings of the original Roomans for personal use.  Iron Winds Metals told me that they are bringing back Roomans under a new name “Rues”, but to my knowledge that has not yet occurred.

The Roomans I acquired on eBay needed a lot of work to clean and strip.  Some were painted with what appeared to be a tough lacquer.  I used a combination of several sequential applications of Simple Green, vinegar, hot water, and pewter polish to remove old paint.  I also needed to use a lot of toothbrush scrubbing and picking with a needle to get the old paint off.

In August 2016, I gathered up my 24 original Roomans – and decided that I could not in good conscience open up my vintage 1977 blister given the difficulty in finding Roomans (let alone ones in an old blister pack).  That left me with 21.  I had two 1977-type pikes as well as the ones from Iron Winds Metals.  I decided that I would incorporate the two old ones within the mob and use post-1977 style pikes to arm the remainder.  One would be a leader, and the other 20 would form the mob or troop.

Yes, I said mob.  A group of 10 or more kangaroos is referred to as a mob, a troop, or a court.  Females (who are the only ones with pouches) are does, flyers, or jills.  Males are referred to as bucks, boomers, jacks, or old men.  Of course the term joey for the young is more commonly known.  This means that my Roomans that have a shield in front are males (pouchless), while the rest are females (having pouches).  Of course, being marsupials, and hopping ones at that, they have many unique qualities.  If interested, here is a link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo

1 Start of Rooman project
My Original 1977 ES-44 Rooman War Party Blister and those destined for the Rooman Troop
2 ES 44 package
Close up of the blister – note the 1977 pikes on the right

My first action was to glue the 19 newer pike heads to the piano wire with Scotch super glue, and the Roomans to 1″ steel fender washers with wood glue.  This size worked better as the Roomans bases were too big for a ¾” washer.  I used a slightly thicker 1″ washer for the leader.  I gently bent the arms of the Roomans and oh-so-carefully opened their hands to hold the pikes at different angles.  Some of the hands were not well-cast, and I fixed these with Aves Apoxie Sculpt (a two-piece clay that sets up hard as a rock in a day) https://www.amazon.com/Aves-Apoxie-Sculpt-White-pound/dp/B0013UFM7M/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1473111581&sr=8-6&keywords=apoxie+sculpt .

I then used the Apoxie Sculpt to cover the washers and create a sculpted ground around the figures (hiding the washers and the bases).  This was made easier by using a set of wax carving tools that I got that looks like a dentist’s tool kit – but really works well with the Apoxie Sculpt https://www.amazon.com/HTS-156W1-Stainless-Steel-Carving/dp/B01D56Q69O/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1473111766&sr=8-4&keywords=wax+sculpting+tools .

3a mounted on bases and pikes
The Pikes and the Roomans, note the Rooman Leader holding the older type pike
3b sculpting tools
My new sculpting tool set

After I let the glue dry and the clay set up, I primed the unit with Krylon “Ultra Flat White”.  I used Elmer’s white glue to lightly affix the Roomans to large popsicle sticks for painting.

4 Roomans primed
Primed and Ready for paint
5 Rooman leader primed
Rooman Leader Primed (front view)
6 Rooman leader primed, rear view
Rooman Leader, primed (rear view)
7 Rooman trooper newer pike side view
Rooman Jill primed, pike side
8 Rooman trooper newer pike side view shield side
Rooman Jill primed, shield side

Now I needed to have a plan on colors.  Buck always painted his Roomans green (he says that his are tropical).  I wanted to check out real kangaroos and see their colors.  There are two main types, the red and the grey, and the reds are larger.  Therefore, I went with a scheme based on the red kangaroo.

3c red kangaroo
Red Kangaroo (male Jack)

My first action was to use a light coat of Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” to the models.  I wanted a good reddish-brown, and I looked in my paint supply, and had a nice candidate  in the form of a 1996 bottle of Armory “Red Brown”.  I used this for the fur outside of the feet and the belly.  For the belly, I used Americana “Bleached Sand”.  I also used that color up to the jaw muscles and lower jawline to help accentuate the glare and demeanor of the figures.  I also used this for the eyes and for the ears.  I used another 1996 paint – Armory “Gloss Black” – for the noses and to finish off the pupils of the eyes.  For the feet, I went with Americana “Ebony”.  I also used this color for the tips of the ears.  The jack figures had two anklets, and the jills had one.  These I painted with Martha Stewart Crafts “Pale Bronze”.  I am not sure why the jacks had more jewelry than the jills!

9 Roomans base coated
Early base coating

As I moved on to the other metallic – armor, tail spikes, shields, and pike heads – I paused to think of a good color scheme and theme for the unit that would tie it together.  I particularly wanted a shield that would “pop”.  Looking at Greek phalanxes, one usually sees a bronze shield with a pattern upon it.  But these are not Greeks – they are Australians!  I decided to use the colors and symbols of the Australian flag for the troop.  For colors, I decided that the leader would have the red of the St. George’s Cross (in the Union Jack) on his pike streamer, with the rest of the streamers being evenly split between dark blue and white.  The shields would have a dark blue center circle.  There are a series of stars on the Australian flag. A seven-pointed star on the lower left quadrant represents the British Commonwealth.  The other stars (four seven-pointed stars and one five-pointed star) represent the southern cross.  I tried to draw a seven-pointed star, and that is nearly impossible.  Additionally, the ones that I would use on the shields would need no be 1/8″ from top to bottom.  My wife Lynn suggested I print them off from my computer.  Luckily, I found some seven-pointed stars on the internet, and shrunk them down to size, and printed them off.

Aus_Flag
The Flag of Australia

I used the “Pale Bronze” on the shields.  For the tail weapons, pike heads, gauntlets, and armor (on the jacks) I used Tamiya X-11 “Chrome Silver”.  For the shield straps and eyebrows, I used P3 “Bootstrap Leather”.  I wanted the pikes to look like a hardwood – so I painted them with Citadel “Dryad Bark”.

10 Roomans base coated shields
After metallic base coating – note seven-pointed stars in foreground

I then needed to move forward with my Australian flag color scheme,  For the leader’s streamer, I used Americana “Santa Red”.  The other streamers got either a blue or white treatment with another of my older paints.  For the dark blue streamers, I used Deka Lack “Dunkelblau”; for the white streamers I used Deka Lack “Weiβ” (Weiss).  Both of these date from 1987 when I bought them when I was stationed in Karlsruhe, West Germany.  I also used “Dunkelblau” on the shields’ centers.  I then used Citadel “XV-88” on the bases.

11 Roomans base coated shields with blue
Completed base coated troop
12 Rooman leader base coated shield with blue
Close up of Rooman leader after base coat

I considered using some dry brushing on the figures at this point but decided against it.  Basically, I wanted to darken the red fur and see if using a wash would do that and give some detail to the snouts and haunches of the Roomans.  I mixed a 50/50 mix of two inks – Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” and P3 “Brown Ink”, and carefully covered all the red fur sparing the lighter fur.  I also used Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash”  on all steel armor.  I then added another coat of “Agrax Earthshade” to my sculpted bases to bring out the earthlike shapes of the ground.  These washes really had a great effect and made the figures look like I desired, as well as bringing out important details that I feared to dry brush.

13 Roomans after wash with inks
After base coat and washes – nice darker hues

Let us return to the all-important seven-pointed stars that I printed off!  I used my Exacto knife and carefully cut out 26 or so stars with the assistance of the 2.5 magnification of my Carson glasses.  I used the best ones for the shields.  I applied a light coat of Elmer’s white glue to the underside of each star with a Testors microsponge (this is a good use of this tool).  I centered each star and ensured that each point was glued down.

Once the glue dried, I applied a coat of “Weiβ” to the stars and touched up the “Dunkelblau” around the shield where the glue seeped out.  I then applied three coats of varnish sequentially – first Krylon “Clear Matte”, then two coats of Testors “Dull Coat”.

14 Rooman leader after star
The Rooman Leader (a Jack) after varnishing
15 Rooman after star
A Rooman Jill after varnishing

Lastly, I added some Army Painter “Wasteland Tuft” to give them the appearance of coming out of an Australian Desert.

16 Rooman mob after grass
Completed Rooman Troop, angled view
17 Rooman mob after grass front
Completed Rooman Troop, front view
19 Rooman mob after grass flank view
Completed Rooman Troop, flank view
20 Rooman close ups, front
Left to right, Rooman Leader, two Jills, and a Jack
21 Rooman close ups, males leaders
A Jack and the Rooman Leader
22 Rooman close ups, jills
Two Jills

I am more excited and happy with this unit than I had even hoped to be!  The unit looks positively awesome and the stars help it pop.  As I build more units with my self-cast Roomans I can incorporate the same color scheme (though I believe my 1980’s paint supply will run out!).

A final note of thanks – to Buck and Dave for getting me into this hobby – and especially to Buck for starting me on this Quixotic quest for a Rooman unit all those years ago!  I look forward to rolling dice and pushing lead with you soon!!